2011 Regular Session . May 24, 2011
SB 61 killed in committee; SB 149 pulled, not to return this session
Two proposed amendments 'flushed out' the truth
SB 61 by Rep. Fred H. Mills Jr. was deferred 4-2 in Senate Judiciary A Committee after two direct questions "flushed out" the straight answer several committee members wanted. The bill was brought by the Louisiana Medical Society, Louisiana Nursing Home Association, Louisiana Hospital Association, state chapters of pediatric and emergency room physician groups, LABI and other medical groups.
The bill limited liability for health care providers in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment on the October 2011 ballot. All provisions of this bill were retroactive. Opponents from Louisiana Association for Justice, private law practices and two families with ongoing medical malpractice cases testified that the state's cap on medical malpractice damages unfairly rewards health care providers who fail to meet established standards of care. Also, they said the bill blatantly allows the Legislature to usurp judicial authority related to constitutional challenges.
The reckoning came when Committee Chair Sen. Julie Quinn and Sens. Robert "Rob" Marionneaux and Edwin R. Murray suggested that proponents show good intentions by agreeing to keep two amendments in the bill. Sen. Murray proposed an annual increase to the state's $500,000 damage cap passed in 1975 in order to offset the loss of value due to inflation. His second amendment removed language that retroactively applied to all pending medical malpractice claims in Louisiana.
Sen. Murray pointedly asked Sen. Mills whether the amendments would stay in the bill. Sen. Mills replied, "I want the bill to go into debate." Sen. Murray repeated the direct question. Sen. Mills replied, "No … and the proponents are not in favor, either." Responding to the same question about the second amendment Sen. Mills said, "I'd like to keep the bill as is."
Sen. Quinn expressed concern about not getting a straight answer from proponents despite their talk about wanting to be fair to plaintiffs. She said to Sen. Mills, "He (Murray) just flushed you out and you said 'no'."
Sen. Murray concluded, "His response tells me they are not sincere."
Voting to defer the bill were Sens. Dan Claitor, Robert "Rob" Marionneaux Jr., Edwin R. Murray and Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Voting not to defer were Sens. Jack Donahue and Robert W. "Bob" Kostelka. LINK to video of the committee meeting.
SB 149 (balance billing, liens/privileges) 'not to return this session'
Some Senators and onlookers were surprised to learn that Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish pulled his SB 149 off the agenda and that it would not return during the current legislative session. The bill allowed so-called "balance billing" by ambulance companies and other health care providers. Also, the proposal gave health care providers the option to refuse to accept a patient's health insurance in a liability accident and instead use 9:4752 lien statute to collect charges for medical services from a judgment or settlement.
SB 240 (oyster leases) headed for study resolution
By agreement of the author SB 240 that provides relative to oyster leases will not be heard this session. Expect Sen. Norby Chabert to proceed with a study resolution regarding his bill.
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The session must adjourn on or before 6 p.m., Thursday, June 23, 2011.